For this mom-daughter homeschooling duo, books are only the starting point to setting up more learning. From activities to adventures, this mother-daughter book reviewing team share their favourite titles that inspire them to try new things, explore new places, craft their days away and ultimately, create their own blog at My Kidz Bookshelf!
As part of our Back To School theme, we are exploring many different ways to learn – from outdoors to in-class, online to at home. We will continue to share these resources for families during these unprecedented times. Today we are happy to include this homeschooling story about a mother and her daughter and how they went about finding their own resources for learning at home, and how this all grew into a joint project that has continued on.
What started out as a common interest in reading, creating, and exploring new places lead us to become the bloggers of My Kidz Bookshelf. We recently celebrated our one year ‘Blogiversary’ and are so excited to be featured by Kids News & Reviews today!April
Q & A with April & Cenzia of My Kidz Bookshelf
KIDS NEWS & REVIEWS: Can you tell us a little bit about My Kidz Bookshelf and how this all began.
APRIL: Cenz and I have always enjoyed books and reading and also liked doing fun things that went along with or were inspired by the various stories. At My Kidz Bookshelf our tagline is, ‘Books and Fun, All in One!’ Our goal is to blog about great books and to give ideas for fun things that go along with them or are inspired by them! Book reviews and lists, DIYs, homeschool ideas, travel, recipes and printables are just some of the things you’ll find at our site!
KIDS NEWS & REVIEWS: That sounds amazing. Can you tell us about your background?
APRIL: Sure. I am a former public school teacher. I actually taught music (band, chorus, classroom) for many years and then switched over to teaching reading. The grand plan was to return to teaching after taking a few years off after Cenz was born. But, it just seemed like a better idea to give the stay-at-home mom thing a whirl! The next part of the plan was for Cenz to start Kindergarten and THEN I would go back to teaching. Nope. That didn’t happen either!
For some reason, we just fell into the whole homeschool thing. It definitely wasn’t planned! I never in a million years thought we would go the homeschool route! I knew a few people who had done it, but never really entertained the idea of choosing that path.April
KIDS NEWS & REVIEWS: You mentioned that there really was no singular reason why you chose to homeschool and moreso a bunch of little things. Can you share some of these with us.
APRIL: Absolutely! Here are some of the reasons that we decided to homeschool:
- We liked the less hurried pace and flexibility of an at-home learning experience.
- I liked the idea of finding/choosing the curriculum that worked best for our situation.
- We’re both big fans of going places like museums, hikes, performances and the homeschool route allowed plenty of time and flexibility for that too.
- Less testing, more learning – that pretty much speaks for itself.
- Kids grow up fast – I didn’t want to miss the good stuff!
KIDS NEWS & REVIEWS: What did your homeschooling program look like?
APRIL: We took advantage of home school groups that got together and did hikes, went on field trips, attended performances and got together for other group activities. Eventually dance classes and Girl Scouts added to that as well. We also live in a neighborhood with sidewalks and mixed generations. So, the whole social thing was amply taken care of!
KIDS NEWS AND REVIEWS: What are some of the misconceptions about homeschooling that you would like to clear up for other parents.
APRIL: Many people have visions of kids sitting at home all day when they think of homeschoolers. It’s really quite the opposite. Many of us are gone a lot. We take advantage of programs and classes at local museums, libraries, group trips, parks and more!
KIDS NEWS AND REVIEWS: Can you offer a starting point for families who are new to homeschooling and have decided to go this route this schoolyear because of Covid.
APRIL: Because of this year’s current situation (Covid), many families are considering homeschooling for the upcoming school year. If somebody walked up to me on the street and asked for my best two pieces of advice for getting started with homeschooling, I would say:
- 1. Check your state’s regulations. It will tell you what you need to do.
- 2. Use Rebecca Rupp’s book, Home Learning Year by Year. We used it and it’s a terrific comprehensive guide of everything you need at every grade. Subject specific with subtopics and suggestions for materials and resources this books is one of the best all-in-one books out there!
APRIL CONT’D: With ten years of homeschooling and 15 years as a public school teacher in there as well, I created a post to get you on the right path called, 5 Steps to Easy Peasy Homeschool Start-Up This post will provide you what you need to keep it simple while getting the job done!
KIDS NEWS AND REVIEWS: Thanks for that resource! Now let’s here from Cenzia. Can you tell us about your experiences as a young blogger and homeschooler.
CENZIA: I’m Cenzia, the daughter part of the mom-daughter duo behind the blog, My KidzBookshelf! I’m sixteen years old and have loved reading since I learned how!
KIDS NEWS AND REVIEWS: That’s wonderful. Can you tell us how you became a blogger with your mom – it sounds like so much fun!
CENZIA: Whenever I read a book, there is almost always something I read about that I wanted to do or experience myself, and after lots of book- inspired adventures and activities, a blog seemed like the perfect place to write it all down! From the days when I read dozens of picture books, my mom always added fun activities and trips that went along with our favourite titles, making each book even more memorable! We made frequent trips and treks to bookstores and the library for as long as I can remember and those trips were always some of my faves! When I was too young to do the reading myself, I would still get a big pile of picture books to look through, and choose a few for my mother to read to me.
KIDS NEWS AND REVIEWS: What sorts of things do you write about in your blog?
CENZIA: We write about our favourite things – other than reading, of course! This includes creating and traveling which are inspired by the titles we’re read. Whether it was making a recipe, doing a craft, or visiting a museum – all of it was fun!
KIDS NEWS AND REVIEWS: I’m so glad that you have taken your homeschooling experiences and captured them in your blog which provides so many great ideas for other families to consider.
CENZIA: Thanks! When we started our blog, my mom and I knew our goal was to give suggestions that would make reading, creating and traveling as fun for our readers as it is for us! Our blog and website, www.mykidzbookshelf.com gives great ideas and fun activities for everyone to enjoy, along with the terrific titles that inspired them! This is why we include DIYs, travel experiences, and more that go along with our blog’s tagline of ‘Books and Fun, All in One’!
KIDS NEWS AND REVIEWS: What are some highlights that stand out for you as a blogger.
CENZIA: Meeting great authors and illustrators, including Jan Brett, Jennifer Donnelly, Jane Yolen, Mark Teague, Bianca Turetsky, Dianne DeGroat, and R.W. Alley – to name just a few! Also, going to various museums including Wintherthur, the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art, The Met and FIT in NYC, the Dance Museum in Saratoga and the Lucille Ball Museum and National Comedy Center in Jamestown, NYC. There have been many more, but these are a sample of the numerous museums we’ve gotten to visit together! I’ve also enjoyed the wonderful outdoor experiences such as the Adirondack Hot Air Balloon Festival, cross country skiiing in the Adirondacks, and travelling to Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard, and touring both the islands – these are some of the many trips that come to mind! If you’d like to read about these experiences and more, you can check out the travel section of our blog!
KIDS NEWS AND REVIEWS: Thanks for sharing your experiences with us today and is there anything else you would like to include in this story?
Just that blogging and creating content about our fun and exciting adventures keeps us busy trying new things, reading amazing books, and crafting the day away while making great memories. This is what homeschooling and blogging has given me. And with My Kidz Bookshelf, we’ve had so much fun documenting these adventures and experiences and hope our content will help others enjoy the same!Cenzia